Why Aitzaz & Co are trying to make media a scapegoat | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Why Aitzaz & Co are trying to make media a scapegoat

Shaheen Sehbai

DUBAI: After losing the case of their chief executive in the apex court of the country and bringing to him the dishonour of becoming the first convicted PM of the country, top notch lawyer Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan and chief spokesman Qamar Zaman Kaira, have turned their guns on a section of the media, blaming it for all their failures in a blatant attempt to pitch the judiciary against the media. Specifically they targeted the Jang Group.

The top PPP leadership, in a shameless display of public diplomacy, wanted to find scapegoats as all their attempts to twist facts, give a vicious perverted spin to events, mislead the judges and the people, insult the superior courts in public, make fun of them in front of TV cameras and then innocently claim inside the courts that the bench should not look at whatever is happening outside their courtroom, had failed.

In their full house news conference, Aitzaz Ahsan and Kaira targeted The News and Daily Jang. The leading lawyer had been trying for days and weeks inside the Court Room No 4, before the Justice Nasirul Mulk bench, to get a restraining order against the media. He would bicker, cry and shout at the Jang Group, he would read from the stories and opinions expressed in these newspapers and would repeatedly claim that he was under pressure. The judges did not listen to him, as rightly so it did not matter to the case before them.

The judges repeatedly denied Aitzaz’s plea to gag the media and finally when he was frustrated, the Attorney General of Pakistan, who was supposed to be the chief prosecutor, joined hands with him and started arguing that everything wrong in the case was because of this small section of the media. What a pathetic plight of the two top most judicial officers of the country who could not argue their case before the judges but had to bicker about some media reports, as if these columns were determining what would be the fate of their prime minister and those powerful people in the PPP, whose corruption they wanted to protect.

After the judgment on Thursday these two PPP leaders spoke at length and again targeted the Jang Group. Earlier the information minister had a shouting match with a top anchor of Geo, Kamran Khan, who practically gave him some shut up calls.

Is then the media the real villain and has the prime minister been convicted because the media ran a few stories on what Aitzaz Ahsan had done inside the courtroom or had failed to do or say the right things before the judges?

Both Aitzaz and Kaira complained that a specific media campaign was launched to create a certain environment, this section of media initiated this campaign, they targeted the prime minister, they ridiculed Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, ‘to dishearten and defame him.’

Aitzaz grumbled that those who had sharpened their knives and tools were shocked, as they were thinking that the prime minister would be sent to jail. “They wanted on January 19, 2012 that the prime minister should be handcuffed. But, they were disappointed. Kaira Sb would have remembered that these are the same people who were saying in 2008-09 that president has to go and the only thing that was to be decided was whether he will leave the Presidency on his feet or will go out in an ambulance,” he went on cribbing.

This section of media, he said, was misrepresenting my arguments. “They were telling lies in their stories and columns. They wrote Aitzaz had become speechless and tongue-tied. They wrote Aitzaz was seeing left and right, up and down. They created an environment against me.”

Then he asked the same media the following question: “Those who were attacking me by sharpening their knives and tools should answer today how a judgment has been penned down out of the ambit of the charge-sheet. If this certain section of the media is fair it should question and criticise the judiciary for penning down a judgment and delivering a verdict on charges which were not even reflected in the charge sheet.”

All this harangue against the media just shows how weak and feeble the political and legal case he has to defend a PM who is doing nothing but protect corruption of powerful people in the party, no matter if he tramples upon all the constitutional, legal, moral and ethical standards of politics and decency.

Aitzaz Ahsan has been simply playing tricks with words and misleading everyone when blaming the media and the Jang Group. He had taken a U-Turn on his own words on the Swiss letter issue but when the media pointed this out, he could not digest it.

He still thinks he is the darling of everyone because he drove the Chief Justice of Pakistan’s car to his restoration and that the media should forever remain grateful to him, no matter if he has joined the club of the corrupt, defending them and their looted wealth on petty legal or technical grounds.

In the process, after remaining in the bad books of his leadership for months and years, for which he duly earned respect, he has now sold himself for a Senate seat and some other goodies to come. He has seen but preferred not to understand the plight of what has been done to persons like Babar Awan and many others.

As for the Jang Group, we have reported everything, as it should have been done, without fear or favour. The judges of the Supreme Court have repeatedly acclaimed the role of the media, numerous stories have been picked up in suo moto cases and these issues have become major cases of national importance for the national politics and economy. The judges at times have even asked the Jang Group to provide evidence, which the government officials and ministries conveniently “lost” because they could have been incriminating. One such report was submitted to the SC by Hamid Mir in his talk show only on Wednesday.

The News and the Jang Group are being targeted because they raised issues of critical importance well in time so that the Supreme Court benches do not forget these issues and this is what hurt Aitzaz Ahsan and Company the most. It was the honour of the Jang Group to pinpoint the hidden but crucial issues which the government lawyers were trying to overlook or brush under the carpet.

What we did not do was to support Aitzaz Ahsan or his prime minister, just like many other media outlets have decided to do. But for this Aitzaz has been twisting facts and scolding us for what we never did. For instance we never said that the prime minister will be, or should be, handcuffed. But he accused us of saying this. What we never did was to say that the president would go out of the Presidency in an ambulance. Yes, we did report what the president himself had told his friends and that was correctly quoted. The president had been telling people himself that he would leave the Presidency in an ambulance, or go to jail, or stay where he is. So far he is right but Aitzaz is wrong in misquoting us.

What has become even more blatant and intolerable is that the government has crossed all limits of breaking the rules, traditions and legal and ethical practices in pursuing its agenda of corruption and saving the looters and plunderers. All institutions have been turned into handmaidens of the rulers, without for a moment wondering what will happen when this house of cards falls to its feet.

Institutions like NAB, FIA, Election Commission and even Attorney General have been forced into toeing the government line. The climax was seen in the PM’s case when the chief prosecutor joined hands with the defence counsel to protect, instead of prosecuting, the accused. Both the AG and the Defence Counsel though lost. So now they have to blame somebody, find some scapegoat and try to clutch at some straws to save their leaders. What they forget is that powerful dictators and civilian autocrats in the past failed to coerce the media in general and the Jang Group in particular and they will also fail. They cannot pitch the media against the judiciary, and vice versa.

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